Five Great Apps for the Sharing Economy
Andy Fleming writing on the uber economy…
There’s one simple reason why the sharing economy gets so much attention. It saves people money, usually by streamlining business transactions and cutting out “the middle man”.
Uber, for example, shaves dollars off a typical taxi fee by eliminating big taxi companies in favor of a less involved “parent” company that takes a much smaller cut of the profit.
It could also be argued that this way of doing business increases the overall quality of the experience. Uber drivers are given ratings by their customers, encouraging them to take the best routes instead of driving in circles to hike up their meter. They also receive a bigger payout than they would from a big taxi company, creating a much more equitable and fair playing field for workers.
The end result is usually happier employees, happier customers, and lower overall costs. The sharing economy extends well beyond the transportation industry. By branching out and embracing as many sharing economy apps as possible, you have the potential to save hundreds of dollars a year. Plus, you’re supporting a better business model that could lead to a more egalitarian way of doing business in the future.
Here are some newer or lesser known sharing economy apps that you can use to save money today.
Yerdle is a must have if you like shopping for second-hand goods (and getting free stuff). Everything from kids toys, to clothes, to tools, even electronics are traded daily on the app. You can even pick up the items for free if the seller is local. Yerdle offers you the option to trade your used goods with others. Have a pair of shoes that don’t fit and no option to return them? You might be able to swap them for a pair in your size or trade them for a new scarf. Items can also be exchanged for “Yerdle bucks”, the site’s own digital currency. This way, if you exchange an expensive item for something less valuable, you’ll receive some Yerdle bucks as change. Yerdle bucks can be used to buy items on the site, just like regular cash. They’ll even give you 250 Yerdle Bucks just for signing up!
If you’re feeding parking meters on a regular basis, or shelling out hundreds of dollars for a monthly garage pass, this app is for you. By using JustPark to find or rent privately owned parking spaces, you could expect to save as much as 70%. JustPark isn’t just for daily commuters either. If you travel often, you can use the app to rent a space in advance, and skip the hassle of having to deal with parking in an area you’re not familiar with. You might want to consider renting out your parking space or garage while you’re out of town too. You can rent a space for as little as half an hour or as long as six months. It definitely beats circling the block looking for the perfect space.
Next time you need a loan, ditch the big banks and borrow from the community instead. LendingClub allows borrowers to acquire money at rates as low as 6%. If you’re more of a lender, you can register with LendingClub and invest in fractional ownership of a peer-to-peer based portfolio. As with any investment, it’s not 100% risk free but you can expect higher returns than savings accounts or CDs.
Fon is a unique approach to bring WiFi into the sharing economy. By signing up, you agree to let other users access your home WiFi network when nearby. In exchange, you’re given free access to over 20 million WiFi hotspots that would otherwise require a password. Fon is worldwide, offering internet access throughout much of North America, western Europe, South America, and Australia. You’re also much more likely to get a fast, reliable connection than you would be using traditional hotspots.
This is a great app for travelers. Getaround allows you to rent a vehicle at a much lower rate than traditional car rental services. Skip the painful process of renting through a big business and use Getaround’s search to find exactly what you’re looking for. This can also be used as a more flexible way to test-drive a vehicle you’re thinking about buying. You can also rent your own vehicle using the app. Simply set your desired rates and wait for offers to come in. The company handles all the payment processing and insurance for a hassle-free experience.